University of Minnesota Sustainable Dining

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Type: Policy

Status: Ongoing

Source File:


Locally Grown
In support of local agriculture, UDS has developed an on-going partnership with Midwest Food Alliance, an organization that provides certification of products grown with environmentally friendly and socially responsible agricultural practices. In 2007, UDS purchased 170,184 pounds of local produce, a 184 percent increase over 2006. University customers also consumed 124,146 gallons of Land-O-Lakes Milk, produced in Minnesota.

Heartland Food Network
University Dining Services is a charter member of the Heartland Food Network. This network works to increase the availability and variety of local and organic foods through diverse distribution systems. UDS partners with the Heartland Food Network to bring new and exciting menus to the University of Minnesota at the Arboretum and Bistro West Restaurants. Third Thursday events are held every month at the Arboretum and Bistro West Restaurants to promote locally grown products and organic items. Bistro West also hosts monthly Guest Chef events, featuring local restaurant chefs who share a passion for cooking with locally grown foods. In addition to these events, guests can find locally grown and organic offerings daily at Bistro West Restaurant.

Organic menu offerings are available at a variety of UDS retail dining locations, including residential C3 Markets in Centennial, Middlebrook, and Sanford Halls and Essentials Market in Blegen Hall and M deli in Coffman Union. In January 2008, UDS remodeled Essentials Market doubling the store’s space and product mix. The new store expansion includes a large organic food and beverage section, complete with organic sandwiches, salads, juices, yogurts, candies, and more. In 2007, UDS purchased 3,190 gallons of Organic Soy Milk. As well, UDS purchased 684 pounds of organic produce.

Cage Free Eggs
In April 2007, UDS implemented cage free eggs in residential dining locations on the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus. Cage free eggs are produced from un-caged hens, raised in barns and other open environments. Greater availability of cage free eggs through existing purchasing relationships and growing trends in overall sustainability made purchasing cage free egg products more viable. Since implementation, University Dining Services has purchased 40,000 pounds of cage free eggs.

Fair Trade
UDS’ fair trade support continues to expand on campus. UDS offers at least one fair trade coffee at every dining location on campus and also operates three Java City Eco-Grounds coffee locations – cafés that serve Fair Trade & Rainforest Alliance certified coffees and espresso drinks. M deli, located in Coffman Memorial Union, served 800 pounds of Peace Coffee in 2006. Peace Coffee roasted locally is fair trade, organic, and shade grown coffee, delivered fresh weekly by bicycle.

UDS’ recent partnership with Urban Ventures broadens our purchasing spectrum. In 2007, UDS purchased 1,200 pounds of CityKid Java true-trade coffee. Coffee purchased from Urban Ventures’ brand, City Kid Java, is “true trade;” meaning, coffee beans were purchased at or above fair trade industry cost. CityKid Java coffee is served in all UDS Residential Restaurants and Bistro West Restaurant. CityKid Java bean can also be purchased in UDS Residential C3 Markets, located in Centennial, Middlebrook and Sanford Halls.

In 2007, UDS purchased 7,157 pounds of Java City Fair Trade coffees, 2,830 pounds of Starbucks Fair Trade coffees, 2,934 pounds of Java City Rainforest Alliance coffees, 680 pounds of Dunn Bros Fair Trade coffee, and 800 pounds of Peace Coffee.

Biodegradable Packaging
In September 2007, UDS began using biodegradable packaging for fountain beverages and express grab-n-go items. Minnesota Marketplace’s Greens To Go also converted to biodegradable salad bowls. The new GreenWare packaging is thermoformed from Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) – a polymer derived entirely from corn resin – and takes approximately 45 days to break down in compost piles. UDS plans to implement additional biodegradable packaging as greater availability for products through existing purchasing partnerships become available throughout the academic year. Recently, UDS introduced biodegradable straws and parfait cups. The items, made from PLA, are compostable and can be placed in green “Organics Recycling” bins in UDS dining locations.

Organic Composting
In September 2007, UDS implemented a pilot program, in partnership with UMN Waste Management and Hennepin County, to recycle compostable kitchen and dining room waste on campus. Eco-friendly waste, such as food scraps, napkins, paper, cardboard materials, and biodegradable packaging is collected in compostable trash bags and taken to the University’s composting site on the St. Paul campus. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to incinerators and creates a beneficial product used to restore soil structure and reduce air and water pollution. In fall 2007, UDS collected over 78 tons of compost from participating kitchen and dining facilities. Currently, Bailey, Centennial, Comstock, Middlebrook, Pioneer, and Sanford Residential Restaurants, Coffman Union’s Minnesota Marketplace, and Terrace Café in the St. Paul Student Center are participating in the program. In November 2007, Carlson Dining in the Carlson School of Management, Bistro West Restaurant and the Continuing Education and Conference Center also became organic composting sites. Additional dining locations will be added throughout the academic year.